A veteran high school teacher befriends a younger art teacher, who is having an affair with one of her 15-year-old students. However, her intentions with this new "friend" also go well beyond platonic friendship.
Two faiths, two empires, two rulers - colliding in 1588. Papist Spain wants to bring down the heretic Elizabeth. Philip is building an armada but needs a rationale to attack. With covert intrigue, Spain sets a trap for the Queen and her principal secretary, Walsingham, using as a pawn Elizabeth's cousin Mary Stuart, who's under house arrest in the North. The trap springs, and the armada sets sail, to rendezvous with French ground forces and to attack. During these months, the Virgin Queen falls in love with Walter Raleigh, keeping him close to court and away from the sea and America. Is treachery or heroism at his heart? Does loneliness await her passionate majesty? Written by
Though not acknowledged in the credits, the cathedral interiors shown just after the marriage of Sir Walter and Bess are in Wells Cathedral. The camera stops just short of the cathedral's famous "scissor arches." See more »
Bess Throckmorton became pregnant in summer 1591, 3 years after the Spanish Armada. Elizabeth was unaware of the pregnancy, and didn't discover Bess and Raleigh's secret marriage until 1592, several months after their child, Damerei, was born. The infant died very soon after, during Walter Raleigh's imprisonment in the Tower of London. See more »
Spain is the most powerful empire in the world. Philip of Spain, a devout Catholic, has plunged Europe into holy war. Only England stands against him, ruled by a Protestant Queen.
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With a dream cast, a fascinating subject, and a budget larger than a pirate's booty, this film could have been great. But the chance is missed.
(Pros:) The cast is definitely the film's biggest asset. Cate Blanchett is incredibly brilliant even at times that the script fails to provide her with a worthy line. Her powerful performance is utterly captivating. Clive Owen's Walter Raleigh is as dashing as a man can be. As the man who charmed the Queen out of her heart and wits and dared to tell her not to act like a fool, Owen's Raleigh is daring at times, vulnerable at others, but always compelling and spectacular. Geoffrey Rush makes the best out of the very little that he's given to work with and Abbie Cornish and Samantha Morton are each great in their parts.
It's also worth a mention that the costumes and the locations are spectacular, paired with a few moments of good story-telling (only if those moments would last all through the film) they make a few absolutely extraordinary scenes. Another great characteristic of this film is it's subtlety, the emotions that are there yet not talked about, the wishes, feelings, disappointments, desires, and fears that are only hinted are the best parts of an otherwise disappointing story-telling.
(Cons:) Sloppy editing, campy scenes, and poor writing are what mostly hurts the film. Unfortunately the film's precious time is spent on side-stories that could have easily been discarded, and consequentially, not enough time is spent on the development of the main story. Everything that happens after Sir Walter meets Elizabeth seems forced. Vague at times, the film seems to be in rush to hit certain notes at certain times. Elizabeth meets Walter and a few lines later she's mad about him, so is Bess and so on. The audience is not given the chance to feel or take in what's really happening, not even enough time to get to know the characters let alone feel what they are going through. At times, it seemed as though many of the scenes were cut short in the editing room and had lost their essence in the process. (If that's the case, lets hope the DVD includes the director's cut.)
The film could have benefited from more climax and action (the battle is barely touched), (other than a few great scenes) most of the story is told through conversations in closed areas. More than anything, the writers leaned on poetic lines to deliver their story. Also, for all it's subtlety, the film takes sides so obviously that it hurts any chances it had at reaching some level of realism or fairness. For instance, not only Phillip of Spain is utterly evil, he's one ridiculous, petty, dim character.
Overall, the cast certainly makes the experience worthwhile, and as long as one does not expect absolute greatness or historical accuracy, this film can be great entertainment for most.
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